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Koa mandolin

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Gypsy 21 Jun 02 - 11:24 PM
Gypsy 21 Jun 02 - 11:25 PM
JohnInKansas 22 Jun 02 - 10:54 AM
DonMeixner 22 Jun 02 - 01:21 PM
Gypsy 22 Jun 02 - 02:50 PM
JohnInKansas 22 Jun 02 - 08:10 PM
GUEST,cookieless anahootz 22 Jun 02 - 10:51 PM
GUEST,Mr. Dave 23 Jun 02 - 06:51 PM
GUEST,Honest frankie 23 Jun 02 - 09:04 PM
mooman 24 Jun 02 - 04:55 AM
GUEST,guitarfixer 27 Jun 02 - 03:00 AM
Gypsy 28 Jun 02 - 12:04 AM
GUEST,Jerry Scrabeck 18 Jul 10 - 11:28 PM
PHJim 19 Jul 10 - 11:35 AM
Richard Bridge 19 Jul 10 - 11:48 AM
Zen 19 Jul 10 - 11:49 AM
GUEST,Ray 19 Jul 10 - 12:06 PM
Zen 19 Jul 10 - 12:16 PM
PHJim 20 Jul 10 - 04:11 PM
PHJim 20 Jul 10 - 04:19 PM
GUEST,Guernsey Pete 30 Oct 11 - 08:02 PM
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Subject: Koa mandolin
From: Gypsy
Date: 21 Jun 02 - 11:24 PM

Weeeeellllll here we go again. the handsome mando player will be coming into a silly amount of money later this year, and is thinking of having a *c*u*s*t*o*m* mando made by the local luthier. the koa parlour guitar that he showed us was sure pretty. But has anyone played a koa mando? Any thoughts? Thanks all.


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Subject: RE: OBIT: Koa mandolin
From: Gypsy
Date: 21 Jun 02 - 11:25 PM

Oh man, where is a clone when i need one! HELP! fix my prefix, pleeeeeze! HELP!


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 22 Jun 02 - 10:54 AM

Gypsy -

Every piece of wood is a little different, so it's up to the luthier to make the piece he has do what he wants. There is no real reason that a good luthier shouldn't be able to use koi (a really broad generic name for a whole buch of woods) to make a decent mandolin.

Particularly for an "F-Style," where "resonance" is not usually emphasized, you should be able, within reason, to get good results with almost any "pretty" wood.

For an "A-style," it's common to put more emphasis on getting a good "resonance" - what some call a "lutey" sound, and if that's your choice I'd have a long talk with the luthier before using anything but a top-grade spruce top.

In a guitar, the characteristics of the wood can be compensated by "trimming" the bracing; but mando tops are not significantly braced (with some exceptions) so that all the "compensating" has to be done in the wood itself. It's much more of a "what you got is what you get" situation, unless your luthier truly "works to the wood."

Consider also that by the time you put a pick guard on it, and get it into playing position, very little "mandolin" is going to be visible, so there is much less opportunity to "show off" a fine piece of exotic wood - and it doesn't make much sense to sacrifice tone and extra money for something that doesn't show.

The bottom line is that you need to decide what your priorities are, (tone, action, loudness, cost, & pretty?) and talk to the luthier who is going to make it before he goes to work. Every instrument is a compromise - you should consciously chose which ones to make, with due consideration to what your luthier recommends.

John


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: DonMeixner
Date: 22 Jun 02 - 01:21 PM

Yeah, What John said.

Altho' I tend to stick to the more trad woods with a mandolin I think. Maple, spruce.

If you are going for the more mellow sound then I'd think Mandola/Mandocello. Maybe treason to think that way but.....

Don


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: Gypsy
Date: 22 Jun 02 - 02:50 PM

Will be an A style mando. Most likely with a spruce top, i mean, couldn't imagine anything but, right? But for back and sides.......Would the koa really be far different from maple? We know that rosewood is not the sound that we prefer. Any other thoughts? This will be his first A style, has been doing the F style for quite some time. Will be an experiment for all of us! The luthier is David Dart, in case anyone else knows him. Has been a builder since the 60's


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 22 Jun 02 - 08:10 PM

Gypsy -

There is some hazard in thinking in terms of what a wood does to a guitar when you start the other half of the brain thinking mandolin. The wood will have an effect, certainly; but it's not a "given" that you'll hear the "koa tone" vs the "rosewood tone" to the same extent - or even the same difference in "quality" - as for a guitar.

The A-Style generally tries to get some "action" out of the top, so sticking to good spruce there is probably a "goodness" thing. Because of the very small air volume, the remainder of the "soundbox" is usually made as stiff as possible - to keep all the action in the top. Maple has been the traditional choice, because it's stiff and dense (like many of us mando players?).

Another reason for traditionally chosing maple is that, relative to the amount of material supporting the load in the neck, the mando has much higher neck stress from the total string tension than most larger instruments (guitars). The usual F-style has a fatter neck, and is frequently strung "heavier" than A-style - "in the store," although what people do to them when they get them home is "variable."

If you want to match neck and side woods, with a slightly "softer-than-maple" wood, it can be done, although you may want to consider a re-bar in the neck. Let your luthier decide that one. Some feel that the slot you need for a tension bar takes out more than the bar can put back, when you're working with something as small as a "typical" A-style neck.

Actually, the one of my 3 mandos that I play most often violates all of the above arguments. It apparently has the same plywood on front and back - and to my ear, at least, has a "fuller" tone than my other A-style, which is conventional spruce and maple (and cost about 4x as much).

Sounds like an interesting experiment. As with any new thing, the guy that's making the chips is the one you've got to trust.

John


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: GUEST,cookieless anahootz
Date: 22 Jun 02 - 10:51 PM

Go for it. Dart does amazing work that I have admired from afar for many years...Problem is, I've never heard one of his instruments (sigh).

Koa back and sides would probably look great, and I am of the opinion that back and sides contribute very little to the overall tone of a mandolin.

Try to play a few instruments with different tops, like European spruce, Italian spruce, Englemann and Sitka spruce, Redwood, Cedar...the whole gamut of the musicwoods. Somewhere there is a wood that will sing to you, and you will know when it happens.


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: GUEST,Mr. Dave
Date: 23 Jun 02 - 06:51 PM

A koa top would be a little questionable as far as stability goes, especially if you make it out of a "fancy" cut. I've found that the best sounding koa wood on Weisenborne Hawaiian guitars is the straight-grained plain stuff. It's really stable and strong if the run-out (fibers that start at one end of the board and go all the way to the other end) is consistent. A carved koa top is pretty much an unknown. But, as I recently experienced, sometimes these experiments don't work out and you still have to pay for them anyway. Living with a $3000. mistake can be painful. And a lot of makers will go for it whether it's a good idea or not because they want to see if it's going to work as much as you do..............and you still have to pay them. Koa back and sides is a great idea and will definitely sound good if it's done right. You can always put in pickup in something that's an accoustic dog and it can sound amazingly good as an electric instrument. Good luck. D.L.


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: GUEST,Honest frankie
Date: 23 Jun 02 - 09:04 PM

Check out the Musicians Instrument Makers Forum web site if you haven't done so yet. A good place for all sorts of music instrument discussion.


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: mooman
Date: 24 Jun 02 - 04:55 AM

Dear Gypsy,

In principle, you should be able to get a perfectly good sound from a mandolin using koa. As I've often stressed in instrument threads, the sound is a product of many different factors including the woods used, the design, the air volume within the instrument, the construction quality and skill of the maker, and the hardware (e.g. bridge, nut and other parts) used. The sound and aesthetics of an instrument are also a very personal thing and, within certain parameters, there isn't really a "right" or "wrong" in design or woods used...just what sounds and looks right to you personally.

By "A style" do you mean the "traditional" carved top Gibson A Style or the flat topped style that also appears to be calle "A Style" by many luthiers?

The difference is important. If it is the Gibson style, koa will be too stiff for a carved top and Englemann, Adironrack or Sitka spruce, Swiss pine, cedar or Douglas Fir (or one or two otheer good tonewoods) would need to be considered for the top. If it will be a flat topped mandolin, koa might work in the hands of a good luthier for the top but, again, I would personally tend to opt for one of the softwoods mentioned above. If koa is used for a flat top it will give an extremely bright and penetrating tone.

Koa is close to the density of maple and some other woods used for side and back construction and, if you have a nice figured piece to hand, should produce a stunning-looking instrument.

With due deference to the views of others, I have found over very many years playing and repairing instruments that the choice of hardwood for the back and sides of a mandolin can make a big difference in sound.

Good luck in your adventure!

Best regards,

mooman


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: GUEST,guitarfixer
Date: 27 Jun 02 - 03:00 AM

A luthier in Columbus, Ohio has built 2 citterns (longer necked mandolins) using Koa back & sides with carved Cedar tops. His name is Tom Davis. http://www.jthomasdavis.com/home.html


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: Gypsy
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 12:04 AM

Thanks, guys. We are picking up the handsome mando players cylinder back from David on Saturday (we hope) and will be talking to him some more. Yes, it will be a gibson style top. Anahootz, the guitars are breathtaking.....i am seriously in love with one of the parlour guitars, and i don't play guitar! great sound. Appreciate all the input......will be a few months before mine husband has the ducats, so any other thoughts are appreciated as well. Thanks, all


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: GUEST,Jerry Scrabeck
Date: 18 Jul 10 - 11:28 PM

A very well known mandolinst Peter Ostrushko, who often appears on the Prarie Home Companion radio show from St Paul Mn. play a all koa [inc top]A style mandolin. He told me who the maker was but I can't remember. It is the best sounding mandolin I have ever heard.[the player may have something to do with this however. I'd love to have one, I've made 3 traditional material mandolins and hope to find some koa in the future.


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: PHJim
Date: 19 Jul 10 - 11:35 AM

JohnInKansas, I have a question. What is the difference in sound between an A and an F model? I've played both and can't seem to see much difference in sound between two similar mandolins. I've played an F style Eastman and an A style and really found the shape to be the major difference. They sounded similar and I couldn't see spending hundreds of dollars for a fancy strap peg, so I bought the 605 A style. I played at a few Bluegrass festivals where I had the only A mandolin, but I love the sound. I was forced to borrow an Epiphone F model once when mine was in the shop and it was a disappointment.
I can't see how adding a scroll to a mandolin would improve the tone at all, but it sure ups the price.


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Jul 10 - 11:48 AM

The scroll adds a little internal volume, so it might ease getting a lower resonance so more "chop".


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: Zen
Date: 19 Jul 10 - 11:49 AM

Indeed PHJim... that point is debated constantly over at Mandolin Cafe. The consensus (and my view also) is that there is no difference between the sound of a carved top F-style and a carved top A-style with F-style soundholes. While most bluegrassers prefer the F-style (Bill Monroe played one!) some musicians like Tim O'Brien play bluegrass on an A-style. The carved top oval hole style does, however, have a different projection.

So it's really an aesthetics and tradition question. I personally prefer the clean lines of the A-style but many others prefer the F. Making a scroll certainly adds a lot to the price if that is a major consideration (seemingly not for some given the cost of some high-end individual luthier-built F-style models).


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 19 Jul 10 - 12:06 PM

Just to add to Zen's reply, you need to be clear about what you mean by F-style and A-style. With both styles, you get ones with F holes and one with round (usually elliptical) holes. Providing you are comparing F-holes with F-holes and round holes with round holes, you will find little difference. The scroll is simply somethingconvenient on which to hang a strap. In 99% of instruments is just an (expensive) piece of solid wood. The shape of the tone chambour is more or less the same.
Ray


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: Zen
Date: 19 Jul 10 - 12:16 PM

Again to add a little... the increase in internal volume is minimal between the A style (with f-holes) and F style (with f-holes). Scroll (!) down and see photo 51 on this page which shows the space taken up by the neck block/scroll support from Lynn Dudenbostel, a very top end maker.


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: PHJim
Date: 20 Jul 10 - 04:11 PM

Here's my Eastman MD605 A model. I bought it about 2 or 3 years ago and still love it.
http://www.banjohangout.org/myhangout/photos2.asp?id=17973&photoID=82780&albumid=0


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: PHJim
Date: 20 Jul 10 - 04:19 PM

This is the MD615 F style. It has the same specs as the 605, but has the scroll and a higher price tag. I went to the 12th Fret on the Danforth in Toronto to buy a Gibson A model. When I got there I saw the Eastmans on the wall. I'd never heard of them, but was told to give them a try. I took the Gibson, an Eastman 615 and an Eastman 605 into the back room and played the same tunes and licks on each mandolin. The 605 blew the other two away and I went home with a new mandolin that was $300 cheaper than I'd planned on spending.

http://www.banjohangout.org/myhangout/photos2.asp?id=17973&photoID=82781&albumid=0


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Subject: RE: Koa mandolin
From: GUEST,Guernsey Pete
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 08:02 PM

When my Fairy Godmother brings me what I want for Christmas, one of the things will be a Martin all-koa mandolin.
There are Martin all-koa ukuleles too......


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